Better Than Before


I awakened early this morning with the thought that today is my last full day in Florida. From inside my darkened bedroom, visibility through the wall of glass looking out onto the bay was unhampered. The reflection of the light from buildings on the other side of the bay reflected on the water. From the vantage point of my bed, it appeared that the house must be floating on the water. All I could see out the windows is water.


Because of the morning wind, the water had a ripple effect. I had the thought that being outside would feel cold. Today would not be a day to walk along the beach. In reality, it is 60 degrees, but with the wind chill factor it would feel a little uncomfortable.


Snug and warm in my bed, I was content to simply look at the body of water that actually is about ten feet from the secure structure of the home. The architecture, spaciousness, quaintness and flow of the house are well beyond anywhere I’ve ever had the privilege of staying.


Last night when I talked with the General by phone, I told her the home has to be experienced to fully absorb the attention to detail and unique features included in the architecture and design. If her sister and brother-in-law read my blog, I’ll be in trouble. While they would acknowledge that their home is very comfortable, they’d be resistive to a rave review. They are the most unpretentious people I know. From my perspective, it is a dream home personified.


The General’s sister and brother-in-law moved into their home in October and they patiently waited until I arrived to hang most of their pictures. They waited simply because they know I enjoy doing that sort of thing. They could have as easily and skillfully hung pictures themselves months ago, but out of graciousness they waited for me to assist.


Consequently, I had the thought this morning that I’m leaving the place better than I found it. The pictures are all hung and the difference artwork makes to the ambience of a room is amazing. Besides that, even without the artwork the home was already second to none. Their taste in art is pretty eclectic. For the most part, it represents the best of G. Harvey.


Leaving a place better than you found it is a good feeling. Isn’t that one of the desires of our heart? John Chapman who carried the nickname “Johnny Appleseed” certainly gained that reputation of leaving a place better than he found it.  He planted apple trees in Pennsylvania, Ontario, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois as well as North Virginia. He became an American legend from his kindness.


Whether you opt to plant apple trees or demonstrate other acts of kindness, it all serves to create memories that live on after one is gone. There are lots of ways to leave a place better than you found it. When the General and I moved from Odessa to San Angelo in 1970, we had totally repainted the house we were renting. We had also added some wallpaper with the owner’s permission. Though we only lived in the house three months, it was a good investment of our time. Not only did we leave the house better than we found it, we also had someone in mind that wanted to rent the house. I remember the kindness of the landlord after he inspected the home at the time of our moving. He thanked us for making the place better. It was a good feeling.


I don’t know that we’ve ever lived anywhere that we didn’t attempt to make it better. I’m pretty good with a paintbrush or at least I once was. I guess you could say I’m a low-level painter. I don’t mind climbing a six-foot ladder to paint, but if a twenty-foot ladder is needed, you can count me out. We had some interior painting done in our home several months ago and I opted to outsource the work rather than attempt to do it myself. It was the first time that I’ve ever outsourced interior painting.


Whether you’re hanging pictures, painting walls, rearranging furniture or engaging in any number of other pursuits, we all have the wherewithal to leave a place better than we found it. While I’ve been away the past two or three days, the General has reportedly continued to eliminate her perception of clutter from our home. I am a little sensitive to the fact that she told her sister on the telephone last night that I am a hoarder. That is a flawed perception from my vantage point. She reportedly had cleaned out more closets. I did ask if there was any possibility that I’d find my clothes in a plastic bags on the front porch. She simply laughed. I guess only time will tell.


This morning before I climbed out of bed to work on my blog, I had the thought that I want to leave things better than I found them. Perhaps that will give the General false hope that I’m emptying out stuff from my closet. No, the elimination of stuff isn’t what I was considering. I want to touch peoples lives in a way that they are grateful for the friendship and the time shared.


All My Best!



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